August 28, 2005

94th

The 94th Engineer Combat Battalion from our post is battling their second summer in Iraq. They were the first unit to stay a full 365 days for OIF I, and now they're back again for OIF III. I am friends with a few of 94th's wives, and I have been so impressed with their fortitude and optimism. They say that the second year is easier than the first...

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August 27, 2005

SUSPENSE

Michael Yon's account of Mosul kept me on the edge of my seat. Mama, you gotta read this one.

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August 26, 2005

GOALS

We hear a lot about the Army not meeting its recruiting goals this year, but here's something I hadn't heard yet anywhere:

The active Army’s fiscal 2005 recruiting goal is 80,000, but Schoomaker said he and his generals are predicting that the service will be “a couple of thousand short” when the fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

That shortfall can be absorbed without affecting the Army’s operations, Schoomaker said, because it only takes 72,000 new recruits to sustain the force.

“What this really means is that we’re not building the 30,000 [increase] as fast as I’d like, Schoomaker said, referring to the Army’s ongoing effort to boost its end-strength from 480,000 to 510,000 by 2007.

So the goal is set higher than what they need. It's not good to be short, but it's not the end of the world, as some would like us to believe. Schoomaker continues:

But when it comes to judging the Army’s health, it is the Army’s continuing success at keeping soldiers, not bringing in new ones, that is the service’s true “report card,” Schoomaker said.

All 10 of the active Army’s divisions have met 100 percent or more of their retention goals, Schoomaker said, with the highest re-enlistments posted by units either in combat or freshly home from Iraq or Afghanistan.

Outstanding news.

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August 21, 2005

DIFFERENCE

For many soldiers, this is the face of Iraq...

miller.jpg

This is their experience and what they remember from their time in Iraq. But reader Tanker sent me a link to another face of war. It's another very real aspect of Iraq these days...

bikini.jpg

The difficulty with the war in Iraq is the differing missions. One soldier's experience could be mighty different from another's, and when both write home and tell friends and family what "war" is like, they're going to paint a very different picture. That's how my favorite reservist ended up in a conversation where someone said, "You guys just stayed in camp and took pictures, right?", when in fact over half of the soldiers in his unit saw major action and are suffering from PTSD. FOB Anaconda has a Baskin Robbins and salsa dancing night; my husband and his platoon spent 87 days living IN Iraq, outside the safe confines of an American FOB. If your daughter is lying around in a bikini in Iraq, you'll have a vastly different view on the uptempo of the war than the Marlboro Man's mom does.

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August 03, 2005

OVER THERE

If you're in USAREUR like me, you didn't get to see the show Over There. My mother-in-law relayed some of the show to me, and parts she remembered made me groan. I wish I could see it for myself, but it sounded hackneyed. My husband and I were goofing off later on: "Gosh, Sarge, what a SNAFU." and "Sir, yes, sir!" and other things that only appear to get said in the TV Army. John of Argghhh! compiled reviews from milbloggers who watched the program, and the prognosis is not looking good. I can completely understand though: my husband can't get within ten feet of a military movie without turning beet red and swearing up a storm. If we want to see a show about war, we opt for War Is The H-Word.

And I hear there was a soldier openly smoking pot? HA. Double HA.

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August 01, 2005

CLARIFICATION II

Man, this is why I've avoided blogging lately; it seems everything I say gets taken out of context or misconstrued. I get tired of going in circles.

So...I'm also not saying that all females are evil and unable to handle the military. I sure wish people wouldn't extrapolate my post into something I haven't argued.

My big beef is the view our society has that everything is the man's fault. This happens with sexual harrassment and infidelity, both in and outside the Army, but it happens in other realms too, which I've blogged about before in reference to Kim du Toit's bullseye, The Pussification of the Western Male.

Think about sitcoms: the men always cause the trouble. The portrayal of men on TV is ghastly. I saw it again today on a rerun of King of Queens: she wanted to go to the opera and he didn't; apparently she's too big of a witch to accept "look, hon, that's not really my bag", so he had to concoct this elaborate scheme to get out of going where he looked like a jerk in the end. I'm telling you, I stopped watching Everybody Loves Raymond when Ray ripped up his Superbowl tickets just to get Debra to stop whining for a second. The women on these shows are atrocious, but the joke is always on the dumb/incompetent/insensitive man.

Newsflash: men are not to blame for everything. That's my overarching beef with sexual harrassment norms and my reason for challenging Smink's post. Sometimes women are to blame for the unwanted advances and failed marriages.

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CLARIFICATION

I thought I was perfectly clear in my post on women in the military that I was only bringing up additional issues on the topic. But it appears that I need to say more.

I am not in any way saying that all of the blame lies with females. The reason I wrote the post was because Smink's post only addressed the issues that women face; I wanted to point out that there's another side to the story that neither Smink nor his 15 commenters addressed. That doesn't mean that I think females are the military's sexual predators.

Men can be sneaky, nasty jerks. I know of plenty of stories of the gross and immoral things they've done downrange too. However, we can't lay all of the blame at their feet. Women can be conniving sluts too. As a society, I believe we're too quick to always blame the men.

One scenario fleshed out: I heard a soldier tell the story of a time he heard a female specialist completely sass-mouth her first sergeant. She interrupted him and was extremely rude. As she left, my soldier friend expressed shock that she could get away with being so impertinent; he was told that the first sergeant had made the enormous error of having consentual sex with this female and was now paying for his mistake. This female specialist threatened to expose him if he didn't give her special treatment. Was the 1SG wrong for sleeping with her? You bet your sweet bippy he was! But this female is now the one hurting mission readiness by blackmailing her NCO. She could turn him in and say she was raped, and there's nothing he could do about it. In today's world and military, women hold all of the power when it comes to sexual harrassment. And I truly believe that some of them abuse this system.

Men and women are having sex downrange. Some of them are married, some are not. But what happens when two unmarried soldiers are having sex and the man wants to end it, and the female gets mad and reports to the unit that he raped her? Happened to someone I know. We as a society tend to always believe the woman is telling the truth in these situations; I personally don't believe that anymore. I think the system is abused and broken, so I get irritated when we moan about the plight of the poor, harrassed women in the military, and when every other AFN commercial is about stopping sexual harrassment against women. Some of these women know exactly what they're doing and have ruined the system for those who really are being harrassed.


[P.S. I also know that infidelity is not only a product of deployment or the military. Our last president had consentual sex with an intern. Bonehead, stupid, ridiculous move on his part. But what happened? She hung on to a dirty dress and destroyed his reputation, while she got book deals and made money. I don't excuse the president, but I do think that's despicable behavior on her part as well. She was not a victim in that situation, but she retained victim status simply because she is a woman. I believe the problem extends to all of our society.]

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